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Posted on Sat, Aug 20, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

Mike Hart, a 'no-brainer' for the coaching profession, excited to start career at Eastern Michigan

By Rich Rezler

Sometime tonight, Mike Hart expects to see his family in person for the first time in two weeks.

Welcome to the profession, Coach Hart.


Former Michigan running back Mike Hart is out of the NFL and part of Ron English's coaching staff at Eastern Michigan.

Angela J. Cesere |

The all-time leading rusher in Michigan football history quietly joined the coaching staff at Eastern Michigan as an offensive quality control assistant at the beginning of fall camp. The hire was announced Wednesday.

Movers packed up Hart’s Indianapolis-area home on Saturday. His wife, Monique, and their seven-month-old son, Cameron -- who’ve only seen Hart over a Skype connection since he came to Ypsilanti -- are headed north up I-69 with their belongings.

It’s the starting point of a career that Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English thinks can be a successful one, if Hart can handle the down side of coaching. Like going two weeks without seeing your family.

“If you were evaluating guys that you want to help get into the profession, in my opinion he’s a no-brainer,” said English, who was a secondary coach and defensive coordinator at Michigan when Hart was the program’s four-year starting tailback.

“Mike’s strengths were never his physical abilities, they were always his mental abilities, his emotional abilities, his character. That’s what I’ve always loved about him. He’s a no-brainer in this profession as long as he can deal with the hours, the commitment, the movement and the disappointment. There’s a lot of disappointment in this profession.”

During his playing days, Hart openly discussed his desire to be a college football head coach one day. Leading the Wolverines, he has said, is the ultimate goal.

When the Indianapolis Colts rescinded their rights to Hart in late July, making him an unrestricted free agent, it was time to make the first move in that direction.

“I knew since March that I was going to be a free agent, so it wasn’t a surprise,” said Hart, who spent three injury-plagued seasons with the Colts. “Once I didn’t get a call in the first week, I called Coach E and he had a job, so I jumped on it and I’m happy be to be here.”

The timing and location -- the Eastern Michigan campus is less than 10 miles from where Hart become a football icon -- were fortuitous.

"Everything kind of worked out. For any job opportunity to be open this close to the season is usually not going to happen," Hart said. "And for it to be here is just great. I love the area, my wife loves the area, so I’m happy to be back around here."

His first coaching job isn’t a glamorous one. Hart, 25, is essentially a graduate assistant. And since Eastern doesn't have a large support staff like some larger programs, his duties can be downright mundane.

But he is excited to spend some time working with the Eagles’ running backs, break down film for position coaches and handle some scout team duties once the season begins Sept. 3 against Howard.

“It’s been long hours, camp is always a grind, but it’s what I envisioned,” Hart said. “I’m kind of just learning right now, it’s like being a freshman again. I’m having a lot of fun.”

English said he saw coaching potential in Hart during his playing days at Michigan. Plenty of players say they want to be coaches, English explained during the Eagles’ media day at Rynearson Stadium on Saturday. But Hart essentially was a coach in shoulder pads, mentoring young players and developing a deep understanding of the game.

“Mike was coaching when he was playing. He was a guy who could see the big picture,” English said. “He and I were very competitive. I didn’t want him to run for a lot of yards in practice when we scrimmaged. But Mike could tell you about every single defender, what their weaknesses were and he could expose them.”

Hart returns the compliments, saying English is exactly the kind of coach he wants to learn from. And, perhaps, someday compete against.

“I have a lot to learn. I’m a baby. It’s not going to happen in the next five years, 10 years … but down the line hopefully I’ll be able to be the head of my own program somewhere,” he says.

“Or maybe in a year or two I’ll realize I don’t want to be a head coach because of what comes with it. I don’t really know right now. I just want to learn and I figure in the next two or three years, I’ll figure out exactly what kind of coach I want to be and take it from there.”

Rich Rezler is a sports producer for Contact him at or 734-623-2553.


Ray Myers

Mon, Oct 31, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

Very disappointing to see Mike throw away five more years of NFL juking. I have spent 7 years following him and his knee jerk response to not getting called in a single week has essentially thrown every fan of his under the bus. I am sure Mike will do well in coaching unless...the call doesn't come in his time frame and he drops everything to the dissapointment of the 12 or so fans that follow him as a coach. My advice Mike? Get your butt back out there on the gridiron. You're a gift to us all and you still have the legs.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

I loved watching him play at UofM. I had really hoped he would find a good place in the professional arena. So I'm glad he's found somewhere close to call home.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:43 p.m.

I'm so glad that "Little Brother" is starting at Eastern. I agree he is a "he's a no-brainer" Go Sparty!

Larry Weisenthal

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:18 a.m.

Mike's doing it the right way. Starting at the bottom, with a great attitude and high ambitions. He's one of the all time greats and one of my personal all time favorite Wolverines. With regard to some of the things he said -- he was a good kid, with a bus-load of spirit and enthusiasm. You want to see someone who runs off at the mouth? Try Rick Perry -- and he's over 60, governor of Texas, and running for President. Mike's more than O.K. And I hope I live long enough to see him reach his ultimate goal. - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

I hope he has huge success, moves up through the ranks, and then takes over for Fred Jackson down the road. That would make for a very stable situation!


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:13 a.m.

I hope that Mike Hart stays at EMU. Help RE there. Michigan does not need him. Sorry MH.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:09 a.m.

"Mike's strengths were never his physical abilities, they were always his mental abilities, his emotional abilities, his character" Unfortunately, in the NFl it mainly takes physical abilities....... Just sayen. . Hey in a related subject, if you go to yahoo, then sports, then NCAA Football, then teams, then East Michigan (I know, right), the only picture on file for East Michigan is a Picture of Jim Tressel, a coach Mike Hart never beat :(


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:06 a.m.

Hart a no brainer choice. Could not have said it more accurately.


Sat, Aug 20, 2011 : 11:12 p.m.

I kinda liked Hart during his playing days at UM. Until he started running his mouth near the end. As a grad of U of M, I understand that we let the play on the field do the talking (aside from the last 3 yrs.) If Hart thinks he's ever gonna more than a position coach...good luck.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

Hart only ran his mouth when two older men ran theirs. Dantonio and Harbaugh have far more to be ashamed of than Hart.

Buster W.

Sat, Aug 20, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

I'm surprised he didn't hold out for awhile in hopes of being picked up during the season. Anyhow, best of luck to Hart and EMU's football team --- my alma mater needs all the help they can get!!

joe golder

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

Help has arrived! It started with coach Ron! I welcome Mike knowing he doesn't bleed green and white. Mr Hart has earned many folks respect in the area for being a great person period. He will provide a dimension to this team that will bring experience and self respect. This team will be better because quality players and coaches Mr. English has assembled.